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Will “Active Packaging” Undermine Apple’s Quest for Sustainability?

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Apple has been seriously pushing its environmental credibility recently, claiming that the MacBook is “The world’s greenest lineup of notebooks” and bragging about the lack of toxic materials in its products. But the company’s progress could be swiftly undone if it moves forward with its patent for “active packaging”. Discovered in a new patent filing this week by AppleInsider, active packaging could potentially provide power to Apple devices inside unopened retail packaging, thus allowing any iPod or MacBook to show off demo capabilities in the store.

According to Apple’s patent, such packaging could receive power “provided by a direct power connection to an external power supply or by one or more wireless power techniques. A data signal may be provided by one or more direct data lines to the electronic media device within the packaging, or the electronic media device may enable an integrated wireless network interface to receive a data stream while housed in the packaging.” Traditional plastic polymer backings present in Apple packaging could be printed with wire traces to supply power, ground, and data to the enclosed device. Translation: excess packaging and electronic components.

At a time when other retailers are trying to cut down on packaging and product waste, it makes little sense that supposedly forward-thinking Apple is doing the opposite. Furthermore, wouldn’t making all Apple products available for in-store use reduce the lifetime of said products when they get taken off the shelves? Lots of patent ideas get scrapped–let’s hope this is one of them.

[AppleInsider via Treehugger]

Related:
Dell Challenges Apple’s Advertising in Battle for Green Domination

About the author

Ariel Schwartz is a Senior Editor at Co.Exist. She has contributed to SF Weekly, Popular Science, Inhabitat, Greenbiz, NBC Bay Area, GOOD Magazine and more.

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